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Protests erupted at California's state capitol earlier this week in the wake of Governor Gavin Newsom's proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public school students. Carrying signs with slogans like, “I won't co-parent with the government,” 1,000 parents and their children chanted “Our body, our choice” just outside Newsom's office.

When asked about the protests in Sacramento, Newsom's office replied that "Vaccines are how we end this pandemic." That's a message I wholeheartedly endorse; the approved COVID vaccines are very effective, even post-...

It all began with Zappos and a policy of free returns. Returning unwanted clothing and other products has become second nature, just like ordering them to be sent to our homes. But just because we don’t give returns much thought doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

This explosive growth in online sales has also magnified one of e-commerce’s biggest problems: returns. When people can’t touch things before buying them—and when they don’t have to stand in front of another human and insist that a pair of high heels they clearly wore actually never left their living room—they send a lot of stuff back. The average brick-and-mortar store has a return rate in the single digits, but online, the average rate is somewhere between 15 and 30 percent....

For Biden’s vaccine mandate to survive judicial muster, it must both prevent grave danger in the workplace (as I wrote) and be shown to be necessary, meaning that reasonable alternatives must be unavailable. These standards must be proven by substantial evidence (not scientific certainty) such that a reasonable person would support OSHA’s position.  The default position favors OSHA, as courts admonish that deference must be given to OSHA’s determination.

Have we reached the point where we are running out of time? If grave danger is looming, and a segment of the population throws a tantrum, does a mandate become ...

Do electronic cigarettes help smokers give up tobacco? A growing body of research supports that conclusion, but not all experts are convinced, including the authors of a study just published by JAMA Network Open.

The researchers analyzed the outcomes of former smokers from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study. These were adults who identified as smokers at the beginning of the study who, at their first follow-up a year later, reported quitting. Use of e-cigarettes or some other “noncigarette tobacco product” was assessed at that same follow-up. Since there were four “waves” in the Path study, the researchers put participants from waves 1-3 in one cohort (7,089 individuals)...

Federal policymakers are finally starting to rethink their failed opioid policies that are based on the mistaken narrative that America’s overdose crisis is the direct result of doctors overtreating their pain patients with opioids, condemning them to a life of addiction. Now the streaming service Hulu comes out with a new miniseries, based on the 2018 book Dopesick, threatening to breathe new life into this false and dying narrative.

Beth Macy’s 2018 powerful book, along with 2019’s ...

One thing we are sure of in speaking about COVID-19 is that it is transmitted person-to-person. [1] Our homes are not exactly super-spreader sites, but once COVID-19 enters, it will have an opportunity to infect all of those in the home. This homegrown transmission has been especially true in homes more densely populated – small homes, lots of family, or even nursing homes. Transmission of COVID-19 within homes is increasingly important as the school year continues; any parent will tell you that children in elementary school bring home lots more than their book bag and homework.

Using the Swedish National Vaccination Register, researchers identified 1.6 million families [2], about 2.9 million individuals. The defined immunity as having received the entire course of...

The American public's trust in US media has cratered in recent years. Just “7% of U.S. adults say they have 'a great deal' and 29% 'a fair amount' of trust and confidence in newspapers, television and radio news reporting,” Gallup reported on October 7. This isn't a record low, but it's awfully close. The media's lowly reputation among Americans is just four points above the record low in 2016, 32 percent. The “bottom line,” according to Gallup?

Just as Americans' trust in the three branches of government is faltering, so too is their confidence in the fourth estate -- the media.

Most commentary about the poll results has focused on the...

The FDA continues to ponder whether mixing two types of vaccines may improve their efficacy. Some reports are beginning to hit the literature; here is a report from Sweden published in the Lancet.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was the most widely used in Sweden, although many received either of the two mRNA vaccines. The data from the Swedish Vaccination Register – physicians are mandated to report vaccinations, so this information covers everyone in the population. All individuals had received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine; many received a second dose – homologous vaccination. Two additional groups were identified receiving the second dose of one of the mRNA vaccines – heterologous vaccination.

The...

Let’s start with a few vocabulary words.

Those glory-seeking B cells get all the ink by quickly identifying and destroying the virus. But T cells, whose response appears somewhat latter, can destroy cells already infected, and unlike their B cell comrades, they hand around longer. T cells are lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that is important in our long-term immunity. All T cells have a T-cell receptor on their surface that separates them from other lymphocytes.

  • Memory T cells  - carry some of the long-term immune memory. When exposed to a familiar antigen that can rapidly produce two effector cells, T helpers and killers.
  • CD4 T helper cells – their name comes from the glycoprotein (a sugar combined with a protein)...

Trends in cases and deaths. The pandemic began in spring 2020 with the largest rates of infections in New York City and then spread throughout the nation, peaking in fall in the North Central region and in winter in the Southwest. The winter peak may have resulted from increased indoor activity and accompanying exposures. Vaccinations began in January with rates peaking in spring, but this period of relief was interrupted by the arrival and spread of the Delta variant. It appears that death rates may plateau next month. These trends are typical for all six regions within the US. Regional infection rates rank approximately in inverse order of their vaccination rates.

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